Sharapova ready for clay challenges after Stuttgart title

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AP

Maria Sharapova has regained confidence in her fitness and her shoulder after getting through some tough matches last week to win Stuttgart.

The world No. 9, who missed four months last year with a shoulder injury, had said earlier in the year that she was not yet ready for long matches.

"If you saw me after those tough matches in Australia, I was just physically not able to recover," she said. "And that's from not playing."

At Stuttgart, however, Sharapova prevailed in three sets in her opening match against Lucie Safarova and against Ana Ivanovic in the final to win her third straight title at the event.

"I just want to build on what I've started here," she said. "It's a long way to go into the French Open, I have two more tournaments, but I hope to play better each match that goes by from here on."

The four-time Grand Slam champion has been one of the more successful clay players on tour over the past three years, winning the French Open in 2012 and then reaching the final again the following year.

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